T'ai Chi Health Dynamics

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     For the inaugural newsletter, I thought I might simply express a few thoughts about the purpose of each monthly issue. The name of this informal “school” is Tai Chi Health Dynamics and each word was selected deliberately.

     What do the words tai chi conjure up in your mind? A martial art? A slow and gentle exercise? The yin and yang symbol? All or none of the above? Tai chi was used in Taoist philosophy long before ever being associated with tai chi chuan (chuan means fist or boxing) which is the pugilistic art. Tai chi translates into “grand ultimate” or “grand extreme” and explains the dynamic interaction of yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposing yet complimentary natural forces. It is important to understand their interdependent relationship. Each relies upon and gives rise to the other. Extreme yin leads to the rise of yang and vice versa. Within yin there is always an element of yang and vice versa. Just as night gives rise to day, in turn day will give birth to night. Additionally, the dynamic interaction and balance of yin and yang help to explain the basis of the relationship between all things and their changing nature. Philosophy, whether Eastern or Western, involves the mind in an intellectual pursuit of the love of wisdom (phileo – love; sophia – wisdom) for applications in how we live and move (interact) in nature. Therefore, while philosophy, in this case the philosophy of tai chi, may begin in the mind, it translates and manifests through the heart in how we live. This is what Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese philosophy would call acting from the heart/mind. Much more could be written about this and will be in future issues. 

     The next word is health. Thankfully we are thinking more holistically these days and so not much explanation is necessary. Modern science and medicine are recognizing and substantiating the interdependent relationship between the body (the physical), the mind (consciousness and intent) and the spirit (the emotional and transcendent) for well being or health. Tai chi chuan is a practice or system that integrates all three (body, mind and spirit) for complete health. 

     And finally, dynamics. Packed full of meaning, let me suggest consulting a dictionary for a richer understanding. The Funk and Wagnall’s New International Dictionary states one meaning as:

dynamics: The science that treats of the action of forces, whether producing equilibrium or motion; in this sense including both statics and kinetics.  

As I would understand it, tai chi and tai chi chuan are dynamic, both static (as in traditional forms and principles) and evolving (active transformation and development of forms with deeper and newer understanding of their applications). So even as art, dance, music, medicine and in fact everything has evolved and yet retained a static element (such as notes in music or styles in art), so too must philosophy and its expressions, in our case tai chi and tai chi chuan. They must both be alive and evolving to continue to be relevant in today’s environment. In reality, it is not so much the art form that changes as it is you and me and our understanding of the static and dynamic relationships involved.  

     Hopefully this makes some sense to you and provides some hint of the topics to be addressed in future issues. They will all fall within the parameters established within tai chi health dynamics. Your comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated. Until next month, I continue to wish you dynamic and balanced wu chi (no extreme) and tai chi (grand extreme). Enjoy!

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